MOT – three letters to strike dread into car ownersâ€™ hearts.
The roadworthiness test is a vital check on the health of cars over three years old but it can throw up nasty – and often expensive surprises.
Some problems are hard to spot or need the attention of a professional to put right but there are certain things we can all do in the run-up to test time to make sure our cars have the best chance of passing first time.
Read more:Â MOT changes: half of drivers still in the dark
With the help from experts at car maintenance resource Fixter.co.uk weâ€™ve come up with nine simple steps you can take to be better prepared.
Joe McDermottroe, spokesperson for www.Fixter.co.uk commented: â€œThese little checks will ensure your car is in tip top condition before heading to the garage and, even if itâ€™s not, at least these checks will prepare you for the upcoming failure your car may experience.â€
Check your wipers
it takes less than five minutes to check your wipers are in good condition. Ensure they are still functioning correctly by turning them on and giving your screen wash a spritz. The wipers and wash should give you a clear view of the road in front of you. If you notice that your wipers have split anywhere or your screen wash isnâ€™t coming out due to a blockage, this will be flagged during your MOT. Itâ€™s also imperative that you fill up your screen wash, as keeping this empty can mean an automatic fail.
Give your lights a once over
Your headlights are obviously incredibly important and youâ€™ll likely notice if you do have any issues with them but itâ€™s always wise to turn them on and check ALL are in good working order. This includes your headlights, brakelights, sidelights, indicator lights and even your carâ€™s registration light.
Give your tyres a squeeze
Your tyres should always be properly inflated; your vehicle handbook will let you know what your tyre pressure should be for the make/model of your car. You should also have 1.6mm of tread at the very least around your tyre. Youâ€™ll likely notice if something is wrong with your tyres whilst you are driving around as it will feel off, but tyre checks should always be done visually too.
Check your dipstick
Your oil levels need to be checked frequently to avoid car issues, but always ensure you do this prior to an MOT check. When parked on even ground, remove the dipstick and give it a wipe down, once youâ€™ve done this, pop it back in and remove it once more. You should see that the oil level is between the two marks. If itâ€™s not, make sure you fill up your oil yourself before heading to the garage for your MOT. Again, your vehicle handbook will tell you the right oil for your vehicle, so be sure to only put the right sort in.
Take a peek at your number plate
Mechanics will scrutinise your number plate, so you need to make sure itâ€™s clean. Give it a quick once over with a cloth and ensure the numbers and letters can be seen clearly. Mechanics will also be checking to make sure the spacing and font follow the legal requirements.
Take a look at your seatbelts â€“ before heading in to get your MOT, itâ€™s worth testing that your seatbelts do up properly and have the movement they are required to have when sharply pulled. If they donâ€™t your car could fail the test. Even if you canâ€™t fix the problem yourself itâ€™s one less nasty surprise.
Beep that horn
Your horn should sound loud and proud when you give it a toot. If this doesnâ€™t happen, you will likely be charged to replace it.
Check your dashboard
Most modern cars have an on-board computer or ECU (Engine Control Unit) which will continually assess if something is wrong with your vehicle. If there is something not quite right, a warning light will flash on your dashboard. If you notice that a warning light is flashing on your dash, itâ€™s recommended you book in for a car diagnostic inspection before heading to get your MOT checked.